Australian consumer sentiment rebounds in August-survey
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Australian consumer confidence
rebounded from a two-year low in August as people became more
upbeat on the economy and the housing market, according to one
measure, offering a scrap of hope for the hard-pressed retail
Wednesday's survey showed the Melbourne Institute and
Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment rose 3.6% in
August, reversing a surprise 4.1% drop in July.
The index was down 3.5% from a year earlier, and at 100.00
indicated there were now as many optimists as pessimists.
The survey of 1,200 people will be a relief for the Reserve
Bank of Australia (RBA), which cut interest rates in both June
and July in part to support consumer demand.
"Indeed, part of the gain is consistent with firming
expectations for additional interest rate cuts," said Westpac
chief economist Bill Evans. "The media and economic forecasters
now expect a further lowering in the official cash rate in
The survey's index of economic conditions for the next 12
months jumped 9.6%, while expectations for the next 5 years rose
Respondents were less upbeat on their own circumstances. A
measure of the state of family finances compared with a year ago
edged up 0.9%, while the outlook for the next 12 months rose
In a promising sign for retail sales, a measure of whether
it was a good time to buy a major household item climbed 2.8%,
the highest in over a year.
The "time to buy a dwelling" index also firmed 3.0% to its
highest since early 2014, with Sydney and Melbourne leading the
recovery after two years of weakness.
House prices in the two cities have stabilised in the last
couple of months with demand at auctions improving markedly.
The survey's index of expectations for house prices gained
5.1% in August, to be up 40% since May.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Jane Wardell)
© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.